Protein requirements are always up for debate.  There are those that believe we need to be eating over 100 gms per day to succeed athletically.  There are those that believe even the RDA’s are too high and that protein injures the body.

Nutrition Action is one of my favorite newsletters.  In part because they ‘name names’ – comparing Kraft dressing to Renees.  The other part is because they back up their information with studies.  As much as studies have limitations clinically, it is always nice to know what is being looked at and how.  This month’s main article is about protein and muscle mass.

Here is the summary:

  • As we age, approaching and beyond 40, it would appear that we need more protein – 25 – 50 % more than the RDA (take your weight in pounds, divide by two and that gives you the number of grams to aim for daily).
  • A protein rich meal stimulates protein production.  The ideal amount appears to be 30 gms, and going above that does not produce more muscle.
  • Eating protein rich foods right after exercise benefits muscle repair and production – good rule of thumb is within the hour.
  • Animal sources have the full complement of amino acids (essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids).
  • Plant sources need to be combined in order to be as efficient as animal sources.

Strength training builds muscle.  It’s the only way.  Having enough muscle mass, and enough muscle power will give you independence as you age, stronger bones, better blood sugar balance, and an easier time maintaining a normal body weight.

Strength training is any exercise that causes your muscles to contract against resistance (ball, weights, body weight, resistance bands, or a can of food).

What does all of this mean to you and me?  How does this translate into our lives?

It is recommended that we exercise for an hour each day to prevent ill health later in life (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.).  The key is to change it up – aerobic (running, walking, swimming, biking, dancing) one day, resistance (weights, yoga, ball, bands) the next, or some of each everyday.  Keep your routines different – don’t follow the same workout day in and day out.  Cross training provides so much benefit.

Working out before a planned meal would make it all fall into place beautifully – first thing in the am followed by a protein rich breakfast, or an after work routine followed by supper.

I personally recommend using real food to reach your nutritional goals.  I am not a big fan of protein supplements.  My argument is simply that few of them are based from whole foods – they are often a bunch of isolates.  Our bodies did not evolve on isolates, we evolved with food.  It just makes sense to me.

So many people want to be fit and healthy without exercise.  There is such resistance to it.  Start slow, find things that you love, find someone to do it with.  Once you start to feel great, it will be as important to your daily routine as your coffee and shower are now 🙂